Phil Jones has stated his desire to be a lynch pin in the Manchester United defence. Following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, Jones has staked his claim verbally to carrying their baton as the new season draws closer. It is a well-known fact that Jones, 22, is yet to find a position to call his own, and this has severely hampered his progress as a player. But seeming full of desire, Jones has taken it upon himself to dictate where his future lies. Quoted by the Manchester Evening News, Jones said:
“This is the first time I’ve played three at the back. Of course (replacing Ferdinand and Vidic) is ultimately what I want to be doing. Everyone is trying to impress and hopefully we can start the season well”
“You’ve got to thrive on it. We’ve lost 2 great defenders in Nemanja and Rio. But that’s football and we’ve got to move on.”
And moving on is exactly what Jones is planning to do. It’s no secret Louis Van Gaal is looking to strengthen his defence, with Mats Hummels and Stefan De Vrij being heavily touted to being bought in, and for Jones to prove he is up to the task of replacing Vidic and Ferdinand could prove valuable if the worst should happen in acquiring any targets.
Jones has been crying out for a solid position, one to call his own, as his versatility has led many to be confused as to where he plays. This has hampered him at both International and Club levels, as if you don’t know where best to play someone, how can they play? And with three central places up for grabs, these comments have gone a long way to making one of them his own.
Van Gaal coming into things with a fresh perspective may well help Jones to achieving his goals and potential. David Moyes knew his game from facing him at Everton, and knew he could play in a variety of positions (culminating in most of last season playing either at Right Back or in the midfield), but Van Gaal may be less ‘clued up’, therefore willing to afford him the chance to shine in what appears to be his preferred position.
If given the chance, the only thing that could stop Jones from excelling is his combative (to say the least) style of play. Not one to shirk out of a challenge, sometimes he can cause more harm to himself than good to his side, and getting this trait under control is vital to stemming the flow of injuries and give him the best possible chance of a long run in the team. A signing like Mats Hummels could also prove important to his development, and give Jones a role model on which to base his game. Defensive bolstering is key, but should he flourish there, a large gap could be filled